Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Season's Greetings



D & I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas 
and Happy 2013

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Clash in personalities

There is a saying that traveling together can really fortify and/or harm a relationship.  Well something to that effect.  Case in point, the Amazing Race.  Most of the racers are either married or dating couples and you can really see how they bicker and fight with each other whenever they are racing under time pressure to win the million dollars.

Well D & I don't really need to go on the Amazing Race to prove that point. I was brought up to always be ready way in advance for any trips.  I would sort out my clothes, accessories, toiletries to bring several weeks before any trip. Then I would list down all the last minute items I needed to pack on the day itself. 

D, on the other hand would simply shrug and tell me it was way too early to pack for trips. His nonchalant attitude and his carefree ways would totally stress me out. Whenever I'd remind him to at least arrange his clothes (mind you, I said just arrange not pack!) he would give me the standard line 'Maaga pa naman'.

So yes we are complete opposites in that aspect.  Well actually come to think about it, in many other aspects as well but I won't delve into that frame of mind, right now.

Yesterday, out of the blue he decides to go shopping for items he needs for our trip on Wednesday, December 19.  And although I was done shopping, I tagged along just for the heck of it.  I needed a breather from stressing over whether I was bringing too much, if I would have to pay excess baggage as well as the horrific traffic jam we would encounter on our way to the airport.  Just simply too much worries whether necessary or unnecessary I tend to cloud my mind with on a daily basis.

So while he was at the department store, I decided to snap some pictures of the Hello Kitty themed Christmas display at the activity center of the SM North Edsa. Specifically at the Block section of SM North.  Even though I am NOT a fan of Hello Kitty, I thought it was a cute and attractive way (especially for kids) to spread the Yuletide cheers.









Saturday, December 15, 2012

Joyous Season

I figure that heavy traffic during this Yuletide season is a good indication for the economy. It proves that consumers are out there shopping and infusing their hard earned cash into the economy of a country. OFWs remittances are at their highest even though the US dollar is quite weak compared to our local currency.

There are abundant sale and discount promos at the malls which naturally entails huge crowds. This in turn produces massive traffic jams in areas surrounding malls. 

It was really bad today as after we dropped off my parents at the airport for their flight to HongKong, we found ourselves stuck in traffic.  The fact is we were still stuck in traffic somewhere in the SM North Area when my parents texted me that they had landed in HongKong.  Imagine that! It is much faster to flight to another country than it is to get from point A to point B in our metropolis. 

Traffic jams ... it is definitely more fun in the Philippines.   *insert sarcastic tone here*

Grabe!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve

Today is 12-12-12.  

The 12th day of the 12th month of the year and the 12th year of the second millennium. 

The number *12* has always been a significant numeral in my life.

We lived on the 12th floor in Singapore for 4 years.

My condo unit here is also on the 12th floor.

While our apartment number here in Q.C is 12-A.

So happy 12-12-12 to one and all.

Enjoy this uniquely special date. :D

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Tis the Season to be broke

Even though it is also the season for bonuses, money just seems to fly out way too fast from my wallet into the cash registers of the malls.  Watching all those TV shows about how to handle your money where the experts advise the public to make sure to save 30% of your bonus just depresses me.  It is really hard to budget, nowadays.  But I guess I have no one to blame but myself.    I did set aside a (small) portion of the bonus, but I was too lazy to fall in line (really long queues, mind you!) at the banks to deposit it into our savings account.  Then what do you know? I ended up using it to buy toiletries we would need for our trip.

Speaking of trip, it has been quite hectic. My parents are leaving ahead of us so I commute back and forth trying to pack all of their items into 2 pieces of luggage.  My sister has come up with a very long list of items she needs from here so I'm afraid my parents might have to pay excess baggage.  I'm also worried that they are too old to be lugging heavy pieces of luggage off the conveyor belts at the airports. I know I worry too much but I believe these are valid apprehensions. 

Needless to say we are all very excited about our trip even though we are already quite tired from all the last minute trips to the stores. Not to mention the terrible traffic jams. But I managed to find time to snap a photo of the huge Christmas tree at the Atrium Wing of SM Megamall. It was adorned with Mickey and Minnie Mouse stuffed toys. Cuteness!


Monday, December 03, 2012

Success!

I am really glad I was successfully able to fulfill my blogging challenge.  Now I don't have to wrack my brain cells to come up with a post every single day!  Besides I got a million things to do before we head off for our Christmas vacation, so blogging would take a back seat, for now.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Gift ideas


This Yuletide season we are all scrambling for good gift ideas. printing posters is a good and fun way to bring out your creative side and it is also an excellent gift to give to your family, friends and acquaintances.  Since we have loads of pictures from our vacations and travels abroad, picking just ONE scenery shot might be a problem, But have no fear.

Having a [poster custom] made is an excellent way to get your creative juices flowing. You can even use pictures you took on your smartphone and print from iphone.

Check out their website at shortunposters.com for a complete tour so you can be acquainted with their services. Creating an account is quite easy and is also optional.  But having an account gives you the advantage of tracking your orders as well as viewing your order history.

They offer 2 sizes of posters, 18 x  24 and 24 x 36.  Once you've picked your poster size, you will given a few options like poster branding, lamination and mounting. There is detailed information available on these options to help you make your choices.

After you've chosen the size as well as the many options, you then upload your file.  But be sure to read about file requirements and restrictions first, before you upload your file.  Once your file has been successfully uploaded, it is time to add it to your cart.  During checkout, you will encounter a list of packaging options as well as shipping methods.  Normally it takes them 5 business days to complete production.

Then all you have to do is wait for your order to be delivered to your doorstep. In the meantime, you can track the status of your orders through their website.  Quite convenient!

Now every time you look at the posters hanging on your wall, I'm sure the memories of your travels will certainly put a smile on your face.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A creature of habit

Whenever we dine out, I usually get to choose the place where to eat.  We are not the adventurous type of diners so we tend to stick to our usual restaurants.

For chicken we head to Max's.  Japanese it is Teriyaki Boy (where D & I ate on our very first date).  Chinese food we usually dine at Mr Choi's Kitchen.  For hotpot it is Seoul Garden (but only when my sister is in town).  Italian fare is at Italianni's.  For fast food it has to be Jollibee.

When it comes to Korean cuisine, our usual hangout is Kaya Restaurant. They used to have a branch in SM Megamall but unfortunately it closed shop. So our only option is to head all the way to Makati City, specifically at the Power Plant Rockwell mall.  



Bulgogi  (P190)
Pan-grilled marinated sirloin strips

Kalbi Tang (P190)
Ginseng and Short Ribs Soup

 

Kalbi Jim (P240)
Korean Beef Ribs Stew

Japchae (P160)
Sweet Potato Noodles sauteed with Beef and Vegetables

Their food is tasty, usually come in small portions and quite affordable. In fact D has this running joke that goes "Kayang kaya ang pagkain sa Kaya" he he he

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tinted Love

I believe that one of the most fabulous things invented well in terms of make up items is the tinted lip gloss.  It's simply grand. You have a lip gloss combined with a lipstick. So it has a double function. 

In 2005,  I bought an Estee Lauder perfume (a gift for my mom) and it came with a free sample of tinted lip gloss.   The first time I tried it, it felt a bit awkward  but eventually I grew accustomed to it.  Now I'm really hooked and never leave home without it in my make up kit inside my bag.

My current fave is Revlon, Colorburst Lip Gloss which comes in different shades but I prefer the darker red tints like Bordeaux and Wine. When my sister was in Thailand for a business trip she emailed me to say they were much cheaper in Bangkok so I told her my fave shades and she bought them for me.

Another fabulous make up item is the tinted liquid moisturizer which also acts as foundation.  They are known as BB Creams.  I've been using a Korean brand named Missha.  I first came across this brand which is hypoallergenic when we first went to HK in 2009.  There was a sales person doing a make over session on someone and it caught my interest.  They also have a branch here in the Philippines but it seems it is much cheaper in HK.

So here's to tinted make up items! Great beauty innovations!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

I wholeheartedly admit, I've never read any of the Harry Potter books by J.K Rowling. So when I received her first adult novel as a birthday gift, I was curious to find out for myself, her writing style. I'd have to say she is quite a good storyteller. She is very descriptive and details oriented. 

The story is set in a supposedly idyllic English suburban town named Pagford which is populated by dysfunctional characters.  Most of them are not your typical model citizens of the world.  Gossips, intrigues and general unpleasant vibes fester in Pagford. A community that must come together as a casual vacancy occurs from the death of a councilman.  There is a mixture of dramatic moments dealing with heavy issues like small town politics, premarital sex, drugs use, division of social class standing, the disparity between the haves and the havenots.  Along with tinges of tragedy, rude awakenings and a fitting ending that brings about much needed closure.

It begins with a good start. The introduction of the myriad of characters was quite elaborate. Dwelling into the inner psyche of each of them, exposing their thoughts and their fears quite eloquently.   The middle part seemed to drag on forever with me losing a bit of interest as it got quite dull and predictable.   Then once the hotly contested election was over and they got themselves a replacement to the vacancy, things picked up quite a bit.  In the last 100 pages of the novel, one dramatic event led to a series of occurrences that grab you back to your senses. Some of them were expected, while others I didn't see coming. 

Overall, I'd say J.K Rowling realistically captured the daily grind of life in a small town. She didn't shy away from the harsh truth and was quite bluntly honest in presenting her wide array of  characters.  It is certainly a well written piece of storytelling.  A book I might not be compiled to buy given the boring setting but I still believe it was a good read.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All decked up

During this merriest of seasons, one of my fave activities is to visit malls which are all decked up with Yuletide ambiance.  But it is rather tedious to be stuck in endless traffic jams just to reach the  malls.  

These were taken at Rockwell, the Power Plant Mall in Makati City.    










Monday, November 26, 2012

Food pictures

I guess we are sisters, after all. Each time we chat on Skype, she would tell me about this new restaurant she discovers when she goes out to lunch with her work colleagues. So I make her promise, she would treat us there next month when we visit. My mouth is watering even though I just had dinner when she sent me these pictures.

Spinach with Century Eggs, Salted Eggs and Minced Pork.


The one on top is Fried Clams with Bell peppers. 
The second dish is Fried Pork Chops with Spicy Salt. (Yes Spicy Salt!!!)

I'm more than willing to let go of my no pork regimen just to savor all these yummy dishes.  Bring it on! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Yuletide cheers

I got my first and probably only Christmas card in the mail, today. It came all the way from the US of A from a blogger friendThanks so much, Kayni.   Your card inspired me to listen to Christmas carols the whole day.

One of my faves is "Christmas in our Hearts" by Jose Mari Chan which was composed in 1990.  He originally wanted Lea Salonga to sing with him but she was with another record company so unfortunately they could not collaborate. 

His next choice was Monique Wilson but she developed a sore throat and lost her voice the day before the recording.  So he got his daughter Lisa who was then still studying in Ateneo to memorize the song the night before the recording session.  She was game and thus this beautiful song with simply lyrics and a catchy tone became an instant hit.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Plucking

The tweezers is one of my fave beauty accessories.  
 
In fact I have this morning ritual where I face the mirror and pluck out excess hair from my eyebrows.  Yes every morning!  I am what you call a 'balbon' person.  Meaning I'm hairy.

But I'm a late bloomer when it comes to shaping my eyebrows. It was only in 2008 when I got married.  The stylist I hired to do my wedding hair and make-up told me he needed to arrange my eyebrows. He didn't feel it was right for me to get married with thick, unruly eyebrows.  It would ruin daw my day.  He he he.

Until that day, I wasn't consciously aware that thick, bushy eyebrows could ruin one's day. But I reluctantly consented as he was adamant and held me hostage. He said he won't do my hair unless he took care of my eyebrows.  So I gave in.  No choice, really.

Now it seems I'm hooked and tend to obsess every morn over any excess hair that might be out of line of my shaped eyebrows.  So the tweezers is the first thing I pack whenever I travel. I would feel lost and naked without it.  :D

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lucky Numbers

Ok I admit, I place bets at the lottery. I'm not obsessed with it, though.  Unlike my parents who buy tickets for several draws, every single day.

My strategy is to wait for the jackpot prize to reach over 30 Million Pesos before I place my bet. I usually use important dates like birthdays, wedding anniversaries for our numbers.  As well as significant dates like when I first met D for the first time, our anniversary (which is different from our wedding date) as well as our ages.

Even though lately, I noticed our ages are no longer part of the numbers in some tickets. Heh! :D   The biggest I've won so far is 4 numbers which gave me 2,000 Pesos.  While my mother hit 5 numbers and got 56,000 Pesos!  That was quite a lucky windfall.

I collect all our winnings and place them in a piggy bank. At the end of every year, I deposit it at the bank.  So far for 2012, I already have 3,420 Pesos.

D often asks me what we'll do with the money.  His number one answer is to use the cash for fertility treatments.  Although frankly, I've given up on this 'plan'.  I feel that at 44 years old there are way too many health risks involved both for the mother and the unborn child.  But I still can't help but wish we win the grand jackpot, someday!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, a holiday we don't celebrate in these parts of the world.

But deep down in my lil heart I always start the day by praying the rosary and a silent prayer of thanks for all the blessings I am lucky to enjoy.

I am thankful that I got a roof over my head.  Never mind if it is a tiny apartment.
I am thankful I got food on the table. Never mind if I pack on the pounds.
I am thankful I have clothes to wear. Never mind if some don't fit me anymore.

I am thankful I got a loving hubby. Never mind if sometimes he is 'makulit'.
I am thankful I have a generous sister. Never mind if she lives so far away.
I am thankful I have adorable parents. They always have been so supportive.

I am thankful, grateful and content for my life.

Period.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  =)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

(Less) Rice

In anticipation of our vacation next month, I've gone on a diet, kuno.  That way I can make space in my tummy for the food binge that is guaranteed to take place in the land of dimsum and noodles.

So for the past week, I've been eating less carbs.  This involves eating rice only during dinner. I tried doing it the other way around but I was starving so much I had insomnia for a couple of nights.  

For about 5 years now, I have basically decreased my rice intake. When we dine in restaurants I give half of my rice to D who is a voracious rice eater.   I've also stopped drinking soft drinks and just order iced tea as my beverage.

Yesterday I had a small bowl of mushroom soup with crackers for lunch.  A tiny slice of salmon with salad (diced carrots and green beans with corn kernels) and rice for dinner. So I feel much lighter!

I'm a slow cook as I like to take my time chopping all the ingredients.  I also wear an absorbent head band as I get into quite a sweaty state what with all the boiling and frying that goes on in the kitchen.   Being a patient person, it can take an hour to get meals ready in this household.

Today for lunch, I had this bowl of beef sopas which I cooked from scratch not the instant type available in supermarkets.  I would have sprinkled some bacon bits on top but I haven't eaten pork in a decade so tough luck! :D


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lost & Found

Last night on the Amazing Race episode, Moscow leg - the band members Abba and James had to deal with a very unfortunate situation. The taxi they hired took off with all of their belongings - including passport and pocket money! This cost them to come in last place and were therefore eliminated from the race.

Now this is quite a horrible experience for one traveling aboard.  To lose one's passport is the ultimate nightmare situation. 

paris 

This brings back to mind an incident my sister and I faced when we were in Paris way back in 1998.  We were exploring an antique shop that required us to go down a flight of narrow stairs.   After we were done, my sister went ahead of me to climb the stairs back up to exit the store.   I followed her but once we were back on the street, she started running after a woman.  I was shocked but I also ran after her.  It appears that the woman (an Armenian from the looks of her) was a pickpocket. She had grabbed my sister's wallet and passport which was attached to the purse from her backpack.

It is good my sister felt the actual snatching as her backpack felt lighter.  So we accosted the woman and in rapid broken French we begged her to just return the passport and she could keep the wallet.   She refused and even tried to run off but we were adamant and won't let her go, we were relentless.  Then after a few minutes, her 'accomplice' a shabby looking guy came back and returned my sister's wallet along with her passport.  Everything was still intact, money and credit cards.

Phew we breathed a sigh of relief as we were saved the trouble of making a police report, then going to the Embassy to get a new passport issued.  It was already Friday evening by then so the Embassy would have been closed and we would have to rebook our flight and be forced to extend our stay in Paris.

But I believe a guardian angel was watching over us so we weren't harmed during the incident and we got the stolen items back intact!

Monday, November 19, 2012

30 days

In a month's time, we will be boarding a plane for our annual Christmas vacay.  Our 2nd time in HK for family bonding time during the Holidays.  This early, I'm already excited because frankly traveling is a great stress reliever for me.  
 
Never mind that I get stressed thinking about what to pack, what bills to pay in advance, what clothes I need to take for dry cleaning, how many supply of meds/vitamins I need to buy, how to budget everything without maxing out my credit card, etc .... you get the idea.

This time, I'm anticipating a more relaxed tone as we have basically checked most of the tourist destinations to visit on our list.  But there might be a couple of places worth a revisit.
 
But most of all, I am really looking forward to the chilly weather.  Nothing beats spending the Holidays in a sweat free environment. It brings back fond memories of our Christmases in Europe albeit without the snow.  
 
But I'll take it anyhow, so bring it on.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Coz I'm Easy... Easy like Sunday Morning

On Sundays, I usually crank up the volume of my speakers and listen to YouTube videos of songs from the past. 

One of my favorite songs is by The Seekers.  They are an Australian band which was formed in 1962.  Their biggest hit is "I'll Never Find Another You" an uptempo song with great vocals and instrumentals.  

Their lead singer was a petite lady named Judith Durham.  I saw her perform on a TV show in Australia last year and her voice still sounds the same. Wow, amazing!   

Enjoy the song!




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Killer heels

Aside from the super comfy ballet flats, I also like wearing wedges.  

Or 'cork shoes' as I like to call them. 

The heels are solid and more sturdy so it isn't awkward to use.

It also adds to my height so I somehow 'reach' D.  At 5'8 1/2 he towers over tiny me.
 
But I tend to only use them during occasions when I know I don't have to walk or be on my feet for long periods of time. 

D just got his 13th month pay + Christmas bonus so new wedges it is for me!

I just added this taupe strappy wedges to my shoes collection.


Hurray! :D

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dress for Sucess


One of my favorite outfits are dresses. 

They are comfy.   I like loose, above the knee length ones with abstract designs.

I just match them with a pair of ballet flats, dangling earrings and I'm good to go!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rebooking

Last August, there was a promo with a budget airline so I booked our Christmas trip, early.  It turns out we won't be able to travel on our chosen date due to a rescheduling of school activities.

I had no choice but to rebook our tickets.  I got quite a shock at how much I had to pay to rebook our fares.  The difference in ticket fares + rebooking fee (per pax) + taxes amounted to a whooping 8,325.70 pesos!!!

I was quite crossed with D because I kept asking him to confirm the exact dates. But I guess it isn't his fault if they (the admin) decided to reschedule the activity. So much for affordable fares using promo rates. I have no choice really it is beyond my control.  

I just need to find a way to ease down our budget to pay for this extra expense.  But I am doing this under protest and I am still totally pissed with D, with myself, with the airlines, with  everyone in general.   Ugh!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tis the season

Judging from the twinkling lights on the houses along this street, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Although there are still 42 days to go, we in this part of the globe like to start the festive season early.  In fact, the news programs always end with their countdown to December 25.

I've always found these countdowns to have the opposite effect for me. It is like they can't wait for it to be December 25 already. It puts a lot of pressure and stress on what is otherwise supposed to be a happy occasion. People rushing to beat the clock, so to speak.

But that's just my inner Scrooge speaking, I know I should be more upbeat about this merry and joyous season. 

I will try! :D

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cold War

A couple of nights ago, D was reviewing his European history lesson plan and asked me if we had traveled to the Baltic States.

My answer was 'Nope' because when we were still living in Brussels, that part of the world was still known as the USSR and was thriving under the Communist regime.

Later on (1995 - 2001), it never occurred to me to visit the beautiful countries of Eastern Europe.  Maybe because I deemed it wasn't safe to visit as there were still several restrictions in place. The newly independent countries still had to sort out their economy to make them attractive to tourism.

Now the only way I can 'visit' these countries is when they get featured in shows like The Amazing Race. Last night, they were in Moscow and shots of the Red Square were magnificent!  

Or I read personal blogs of people who have traveled to places like Prague, Latvia and of course Russia itself.  A few months ago, I also drooled over pictures of a friend from high school who went to Budapest, the capital of Hungary. 

Sights and scenery of distant places which now enjoy independence. It's a pity they took their sweet time to tear down their "Berlin Wall" or else I would have hopped on a train with my Eurail pass and soak in their ambiance. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reminiscing

Last week, I met my parents for our monthly First Friday mass ritual.  After lunch, we were having coffee when an former colleague of my father approached us.  Apparently, it has been 2 years after his retirement so he was still in the loop of the developments in the home office.

So over a cup of coffee, they started reminiscing about the good old days. The usual senior forums as topics ranged from retirement, health woes, investments and being grandparents.

It was quite a lively and interesting afternoon as I got updates on the children of the co-workers of my father during his stint overseas. There are now plans to set a reunion during the Holidays for a get together of former employees now all enjoying retirement.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today I learned

Pandora is the first woman in Greek Mythology.

Octothorpe is the pound or the number sign.

These I got from watching the game show "Million Dollar Drop".

It is quite interesting and is mostly based on trivia questions.

You are asked a total of 8 Questions from different categories.

You are asked to place a million on the correct answer.

Then the wrong answers are dropped one by one.

You win the total amount left at the end of the 8 questions.

I mostly get the answers if they dealt with geography, music & movies.

But draw a complete blank when it comes to things related to the Philippines.

Subjects like local folklore, OPM (Original Philipino Music) and local geography.

This is where D can share his knowledge.

If we had 'played' on tonight's show, we will go home empty handed.

Because I had no idea the pound sign is known as Octothorpe.

Boo hoo.  :D

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My attempt to rhyme

Saturday Poetry

 Amihan is her name
Blowing chilly wind
Into my window pane

Early mornings I awake
Reaching for my blanket
Which I do take

To protect myself 
From her cool breeze 
In order not to freeze

Her cold embrace
remind me of
Yonder days of grace

A period of
Innocent wonders
Which now makes
Me ponder

A life that quickly passed
Leaving me
Mostly aghast

Time has flown by
Oh so fast
I'm amazed
I still last

Yet I'm grateful
I still feel such splendor
So remain humbly thankful

Friday, November 09, 2012

Disruption of Service

This morning, I woke up and there was no electricity. 

I called Meralco and was informed our barangay will be without power from 8:30 AM to 4 PM as they were installing anti lightning devices to their electric posts.

Nice!  NOT!

So I spent my time reading in the natural light while fanning myself, now my arms hurt from holding a hard bound book in one hand and the 'pamaypay' in the other hand.

When it was lunch time, I realized I've forgotten how to cook rice without the rice cooker so I just opened canned clam chowder soup and had it with 2 slices of loaf bread which I 'toasted' in a frying pan. 

After lunch, I decided to defrost the ref as it started to melt without the power on.  Good idea since there was still some cool air emanating from the refrigerator.

I took another shower at around 3pm and decided to gulp down the remaining contents of the Coffee Crumble ice cream which was starting to melt.

So I'm glad I survived 8 hours of no power by being productive.  Doing things which I would otherwise neglect as I would be sitting in front of my computer.  Plus I got to eat ice cream so that's an extra bonus.

But please no more power interruption!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Shaken not stirred

The James Bond franchise turned 50, this year.  I'm 44 years old so yes I grew up watching most of the films featuring this slick British agent provocateur who fought against outlandish villains, bedded beautiful women, likes his martini 'shaken not stirred' - all done under Her Majesty's secret service.

Growing up, I always associated James Bond movies with fancy gadgets, exotic locales, Bond girls, the familiar James Bond theme music (which is now currently playing in my mind!).

It also came with amazing soundtrack composed of songs made famous by artists like Matt Monro ("From Russia with Love"), Shirley Bassey ("Diamonds are Forever"), Sheena Easton ("For Your Eyes Only") and Duran Duran ("A View to a Kill") to name a few.

So there is no way I would have missed  Daniel Craig as 007 in the 23rd offering of the longest running film franchise of all time.  It has to be said that I absolutely adore Daniel Craig in all of his films so seeing him as James Bond is quite an intensely thrilling experience! 

I really recommend "Skyfall" it is one of the best James Bond movies I've seen!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

4 More Years

Millions spent on campaign sorties.  All of them manned by an effective team made up of volunteers and experts.  3 heated debates in which they argued on a variety of issues.  An assortment of campaign ads which I don't get the privilege to watch. 

It all led to an important date - November 6, 2012.  Or the morning of Wednesday, November 7 in this part of the globe.

America has voted and decided they want 4 more years of a Democratic President.

As I watched the extensive coverage of CNN on the election, I couldn't help but admire how seamlessly the whole process unfolded in one single day.  I didn't see any long lines of people waiting for their turn outside voting precincts.  No confusion and chaos as people looked for their names on the long voters list posted on the walls.  No election observers from major political parties crowding the entrance to voting precincts handing out sample ballots. No piles of garbage filled with 'kodigo' or the list of people to vote for.  Everything was orderly and well organized.  

Then a few hours later, the results were announced. The defeated candidate conceded graciously. The winner gave his victory speech.  End of process.  No claims of cheating or electoral sabotage. 

People partied till the wee hours of the morning and now wake up with a newly elected President who has a tough mandate to deliver his programs to the best of his ability.   Time to move on and get to work.    

No qualms about it, he has a tough job to do but I think America chose wisely. I'm not a Democrat nor a Republican when it comes to my political affiliations. I find myself right smack in the middle between being a liberal and a conservative. Besides, I'm not qualified to vote because I'm not a citizen of the US of A.   But as a keen observer of the electoral process which unfolded in just a single day, I can't help but wish our local elections set for next year will be as organized and a hassle free process!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sumo San @ Edsa Shangri-la Mall

I've been meaning to eat at Sumo San @ the Shangri-la Mall for the longest time.  On a few occasions, we found ourselves in the area, the Japanese restaurant was always full and we didn't want to wait as our tummies were already grumbling.



For my 44th birthday last month, I decided to call ahead to reserve a table for four. My parents got there early so they decided to order California Roll (P258.00) for appetizers.


When I got there, I was totally confused on what to order as their menu was quite extensive. The menu itself was quite heavy but it did have pictures of the dishes they offered.   I just went by my gut feeling and ordered what I thought look and hopefully tasted good. 

I added Crunchy Tuna Roll (P238.00) to our appetizers.  For our main course, I ordered the Rib Eye Teppan (P779.00) and Gindara (P778.00).  








As well as the customary noodles for long life dish - Seafood Yakisoba (P258.00).


Conclusion: The portions of the dishes are a bit small but quite tasty.  Their menu is quite extensive as they serve steaks, seafood and sushi.  A distinct Westernized Japanese flavor is the main cuisine.  A bit pricey but the family friendly ambiance makes it conducive for celebrating special occasions.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Kids birthday parties

A few weekends ago, D & I were invited to the baptism/1st birthday party of the son of a co faculty member.   These birthday parties are quite fun. There are many games (well for the kids), and of course plenty of food to feast on.

Yet I always feel a bit awkward. It is being quite apparent during these sort of happy occasions that we stand out as the childless couple. It used to be quite exhausting to keep explaining that we don't have kids, not out of choice but out of circumstances which are beyond our control.

Nowadays, I leave it to D to do the 'explaining', I simply smile like I know something they don't.   When the truth is I don't really understand why despite our numerous efforts we still haven't been blessed with an offspring.  

It has been almost 2 years now that I gave up the 'battle'.  There are days when I still wonder if I made the correct decision. Other days, I shrug and accept the fact that we will be a childless couple.  While other days (after all, there are 30/31 days in a month!) I still burst into tears whenever I hear that friends and friends of friends are expecting and will soon be mothers.

D has been reassuring me that it is just how life is. We win some, we lose some. But what's important is we remain true to our faith and accept that challenges and struggles are also part of God's plan for us.   Amen.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Serenity

I guess it is more PC (politically correct) to be called a stay at home wife rather than a 'plain housewife', these days.   Frankly, I don't see any vivid difference because they both  basically convey the same notion.  

For the past decade now I've been a homebody ergo I don't have a 9 to 5 job but it doesn't mean I got it easy.  I guess in same way, I'm lucky because I don't have to commute daily,  deal with traffic and office politics. But it has its disadvantages too which I'd probably tackle in another post.

So long weekends, school holidays doesn't basically get me all excited because for me it is just a couple of days or a couple of weeks when D is home the entire day.  Since he is a homebody too, we just basically coop up in front of our respective PCs (personal computer) lost in our own virtual realm for hours on end.

Yes I know, it sounds pretty boring, right? But believe me, it is also these moments when I find myself at my happiest with a serene and peaceful vibe that envelops me like a warm blanket on a chilly day.

Each of us totally focused on our own activities. Often, no words are spoken as we both wear earphones to listen to our respective genre of music. D prefers to listen to jazzy tunes.  I'm more inclined towards songs from the 1960s to the 1980s range.

An eerie silence permeates the entire apartment. But we are at peace, our hearts are smiling, contentment reigns.

Yes life is grand, indeed. :D

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The house on a hill

Since my parents are now in their 70s, my sister and I deemed it would be much better and very convenient for them to stay at a centrally located place.  Since my sister now lives aboard and I've relocated after my marriage,  the condo has been their home.  A sanctuary that is quite accessible to the malls, places of worship, places that provide public utility services and everything else that one needs for a comfortable lifestyle.

But we still visit our house in the hills occasionally.  Coincidentally, I named my blog after the subdivision where our bungalow is located.  Our single detached house is still fully furnished and contains most of the trinkets and souvenir items we've accumulated from several of our travels as well as our stints overseas.  

So every time I enter its premises, memories just keep rushing in from all corners of our bungalow.  From pieces of furniture bought from exotic places, beaded curtains that adorn the rooms, wooden carvings and souvenir porcelain plates of different shapes and sizes that hang from the walls to numerous photo albums containing pictures taken in different countries.

The time frame of these pictures range from our toddler years up to the time we came back for good, 10 years ago.  An era of pigtails, thick eyeglasses, bulky shoulder pads spanning different hairstyles.  As well as the period before the onset of the digital camera.  

Unfortunately, some of the photographs are already discolored from the ravages of time.  They are also gathering dust in albums stocked into piles of boxes that are now misshapen from years of neglect.  I know I need to salvage them before it is too late.

Actually that is my main resolution for next year. Until then, I guess I have 2 months to figure out how to go about this task.  As well as canvass for an affordable scanner that can magically transform memories into digital form.  How exciting!

Friday, November 02, 2012

La Familia

D has been on sem break for several weeks now so we decided to go early to visit our departed ones.  The ashes of his father who died 3 years ago in Seattle are buried in a crypt beside the Loreto Church in Sampaloc.  It is a small yet intimate enclosure so it doesn't get as crowded as in the public cemeteries.

Sad to say I never met his father in person but from the stories I've heard about him, he seemed like a jolly fun person who lived life to the fullest until he passed away at the ripe old age of 95 years old.

The remains of my grandparents on both sides are located in cemeteries that are simply too far for us to visit.  I know it is only once a year but frankly I don't really do well in crowds so I deem it is best I avoid these kinds of situations.

I remember my maternal grandparents quite fondly. Though they were quite strict, they were the epitome of good moral values. They taught us to be God fearing individuals who must be respectful, value the dignity of everyone and understand that the family is the most important unit of society.

During past holidays, several generations would all gather in the ancestral house to partake a hearty meal with lengthy conversations peppered with laughter.  My grandmother would arrange all her Spanish inspired dishes on the large dining table adorned with her fine china and silver cutlery.  We would all eat till we would burst. It was so much fun. I really miss those reunions.

Nowadays, my cousins are all living in different far flung locations it is quite rare that we all get together during holidays. I guess times have changed, the present generation are composed of smaller units who celebrate with their immediate family.  I only get to see them through pictures they post on their FB.  I guess what's important is that we still adhere to the dictates of our grandparents.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Blogging challenge

It's the first day of the 11th month of the year 2012.

I've given myself this task for the entire month of November.

I will try to blog every day.

Quite a daunting challenge as it seems my brain cells have dried up.

Along with my skin which now requires tons of body lotion.

As well as facial moisturizer which tend to make my face look 'shiny'.

Hopefully I find interesting subject matters to rant about.


So wish me luck! :D

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tick tock tick tock

It probably seems like I've abandoned my blog. 

I guess I have.

Nothing blog-worthy thus the neglect.

Most of the time, it seems like I am running out of time.

To accomplish daily chores which need full attention.

It's not like my life is any different than what it was a week ago.

I just turned a year older but it seems I get tired more easily.

Probably signs of old age creeping in.

I always say I may not look my age (44) but I certainly feel it.

For instance, I got J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy as a birthday gift.

I've never read the Harry Potter books so I'm not familiar with her style of writing.

After a long day of chores, I settle into bed and try to read before sleeping.

One night, I was holding the book up to get a better light on the pages.

I dozed off and boink the hard bound book fell on my forehead.

I was briefly awaken then promptly fell back into a deep slumber.

Next day I had a 'bukol' on my forehead.

A slightly red bump which D never fails to point at then laughs to his heart's content.

Last night I only made through a couple of paragraphs before I dozed off.

I gasp in horror as I realize I am only 44 years old to feel such exhaustion.

I can only imagine how my parents in their 70s feel.

But mind you, those two have more energy combined than I have in my weak knees.

So there! I've explained myself.

Now onward to preparing lunch and everything it involves.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Double Four

It's the 19th of October, time for me to usher in my 44th year.

I wish I had the energy to compose a long post reflecting on what my life has been like all these years but I'm too lazy to force my brain cells to do some heavy thinking.

But one word comes to mind as I reflect back on my life much like a flashback scene in any movie - "blessed".

I owe much of my blessed life to my beloved parents, my very generous sister and for the past 4 years my loving hubby.


My key word for this year and as well as for my future is 'sparkle'.  

I wish that every aspect of my life will shine as brilliantly as the gemstones on these dangling earrings I received as gifts from my beloved sister.  =)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New lease on life

Finally my Harriet got fixed. 

Apparently one of her parts (memory card) was corrupted thus causing those irritating blue screen moments coupled with her "today.I.switch.on-tomorrow.I.won't.switch.on" tantrums.

Yesterday, our reliable tech guy worked on her the whole day. Aside from the new component, I finally decided to make the switch from Windows XP to Windows 7.  

I'm a traditionalist so I'm guided by the age old formula that if it works why change it mentality. I've been using Windows XP for eons now. I kept postponing the switch because I've grown accustomed to its ease of function style.

But the tech guy said it would be quite difficult to find drivers for Windows XP if we use newer component parts. In fact, Harriet is already 5 years old and by normal standards, parts can get obsolete within 2 years time.

So I'm happy. I was willing to go for a complete overhaul.  Well actually that was D's idea. It was going to be his gift for my birthday. But we were able to save as it turns out just one part was needed for Harriet's rebirth, for now.  The tech guy said Harriet would have to be phased out within 2 years or less.

There are many exciting features in Windows 7.  I get an adrenaline rush from tinkering with the various options.  I feel like a kid in a toys store and I was up until the wee hours just exploring with a huge smile on my face.It's wonderful how a tiny component can add a new lease on an already aging device.  

Now don't you wish this was applicable to our own body parts? I know there are certain joints in my soon to be 44 (years old) body which could use some replacement parts and make me feel brand new again!  :D

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Put a ring on it

Several months before our marital union, we scouted the crowded streets of Binondo to canvass for our wedding rings. With a limited budget and a traditional design in mind, we practically entered all the shops lined up in that very busy stretch of jewellery shops.

It was so overwhelming because there was a wide variety of rings on display. I am quite satisfied with the rings we finally ended up purchasing. It was well within our budget and the design is simple yet elegant if I may say so myself. 

From time to time, I still check out some websites which offer wedding rings. I was drawn towards a  talented artist named Todd Alan. He offers unique wedding rings which are originally designed and hand braided with the finest technique.  His unique wedding bands are made from the finest materials like silver, gold, white and red/rose gold as well as two toned and tri-color wedding rings. Each ring is intricately designed one at a time upon order.  He has developed a Celtic knot inspired design that is quite distinct with a fine polished finishing that is quite elegant. 

With a guaranteed secure online ordering facility, it also has a free 30 day risk free return policy so you are assured of good quality at all times.  So check out his online wedding ring art gallery and I'm sure you will have a feast just ogling over his very unique handwoven and braided designs.




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm back

12 days of constant dining out with shopping spree galore not to mention the special bonding time with my beloved sister can sure take its toll on me. 

My 43 year old body has gained 5 kgs from all that bingeing. Imagine that!  I'm exhausted. My feet hurt from all the walking (albeit in the malls).  My monthly lasted more than its usual expectancy.  My head hurts from staying up late as we watched TV shows on her laptop.

BUT.

I managed to purchase new clothes, new shoes.  I got my early birthday gifts (yes plural) from my sister. I was also able to sneak in a hair treatment with haircut session which was so relaxing!

My cup runneth over, I'm extremely content and feel thoroughly blessed as I usher in my 44th year in a week's time. 

Thank you,  Lord for the continued pouring of abundant blessings. =)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Beloved


Despite my fiercely persistent requests for him to stop playing basketball,  he enthusiastically insists he is still fit as a fiddle to play this physically demanding game.

So I promise I will stop being a nagger and just let him be.  But it's difficult to ignore the bruises and scratches on his arms and legs when he comes home after a game.

Happy 48th birthday!  

P.S.

I will be on a blogging hiatus as my beloved sister is coming home for a few days to celebrate her own birthday (Oct. 2) with us.    Hurray to sisterhood bonding moments!!!  :D


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Your place or my place?

A nasty separation has forced a good friend of mine to throw himself into the dating world, yet again. Faced with the nagging thought of being alone, he finally dust the cobwebs off himself and decided to explore what's out there.

No sooner had he taken two steps out when he suddenly realized how daunting this task was going to be.  A separated father of one in his late 40s is not an attractive tagline to put on a dating site. But he thought what the heck, he might as well be honest than pretend to be someone else.

In his emails, he mostly laments how frustrating it is to find someone who didn't mind his extra baggage, let alone someone who shared his interests.  One would think that with all these social media sites available at one's disposal, it would make things quite easy but it has its pitfalls too. 

It seems that when one doesn't immediately connect with another person on a certain level, it would be quite easy to just move on to the next person in the 'list' of potential prospects.  There is a prevailing sense of detachment that crops up to serve as a buffer so people tend to be less invested in commitments.

For the life of me, I cannot fathom the idea of going out there at our age. The stress and anxiety one has to go through the motions of  presenting your best foot forward. The rigors of thinking what to wear for first dates, then the never ending waiting game for the other party to set another date, the text messages that get ignored, the phone calls that are never answered. But worse of all, that ache in your tummy that signifies rejection.

I've had my share of flings, long distance relationships and broken heart episodes complete with sleepless nights and crying woes. All these experiences turned me into a bitter person but I was still a 'hopeful' romantic as opposed to a hopeless one.

So I consider myself truly lucky I found my significant other at the ripe old age of 39.   4 years down the line, we might not have the perfect marriage but nothing compares to the sweet sensation of waking up next to someone every morning. 

I fervently wish my good friend all the best in his quest to find his special someone, but I'm also very grateful I don't have to go through anxious first date moments ever again. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Light and Sound Show

The title does not refer to any museum or a musical fountain show but rather the freaky thunderstorm complete with massive lightning bolts we experienced  last night.

We had just finished dinner and was washing the dishes when it started to rain heavily.  Then loud thunder could be heard reverberating across the skies. The alarms of our neighbors cars went off every single time the ground shook from the vibrations.

I immediately switched off all the electrical appliances like our computers and the TV even though I was totally engrossed in the replay of the blind auditions for "The Voice."  Based on our past experiences we know that  lightning bolts can do much damage once it strikes electronic gadgets. I grabbed hold of the flashlight as well as the rechargeable lamp because I was anticipating the electricity to conk out but amazingly it didn't.  

With nothing left to do, we went up to our bedroom and watched the light and sound show unfold right outside our window.  It was scary as massive lightning bolts would brighten the skies, followed immediately by loud reverberating thunders.  I kept my eyes closed but D would keep me updated every time a bolt of lightning struck. 

In times like these, you realize how much one relies on electrical appliances like the TV or the computer to keep you occupied.  But there in the midst of a huge thunderstorm which lasted for almost 2 hours, conversing about anything under the sun is the key to keep you entertained. It felt good to return to the basics and talk about anything without any distraction like the blaring TV or playing Scrabble or 8 Ball Pool (for D) on FB.  

I was still narrating the plot of  a  film I watched at the recently concluded Cine Europa when I heard the faint sound of a snore.  D had fallen asleep! Either our talking points were too boring or he was simply too tired from a long day.  Hopefully, it was the latter.   There goes my long spiel about having meaningful conversation in the dark for nothing.  Apparently, I was merely talking to myself.  :D

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tis the season to be humpty dumpty

Another reason why I like the month of September is the start of the new season of my fave TV shows.

There are TV shows which I've been following faithfully since its inception.  Grey's Anatomy is the medical drama peppered with doctors, residents and interns who lead very interesting lives in and out of the hospital they work in. It has provided me with helpful medical information. I sometimes believe I turn into a hypochondriac just by viewing its episodes.  

Survivor is the mother of all reality shows. It depicts how castaways survive in a remote island without the bare essentials.  I like the synergy among the castaways who bicker, back stab and just about do anything to win the one million dollars. For its 25th season, Survivor is on some remote island here in the Philippines so that should be interesting to watch.

Parenthood is about the Braverman family. Their ups and downs, their joys and sorrows are highlighted weekly. It has a good ensemble cast composed of veteran TV stars among them Peter Krause (6 Feet Under),  Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) and Craig T. Nelson (Coach).

When it comes to the 'singing' contests, I tune in to The Voice. I like how the contestants are chosen based on their God given talent (singing voice) than their looks or personalities. I like the mentors who really go out of their way to train and guide their team during the live performances.

There are some TV shows, I caught mid season. Yet once I read all their previous episodes, I'm now hooked on them.  I like the sarcastic sly humor I get from the 30 minute episodes of  Nurse Jackie.  It is very shocking how irreverent the episodes of Shameless are but I can't stop tuning in each week to see what the dysfunctional Gallagher family is up to.  It is just too bad I still have to wait until next year for that.

I wasn't particular keen on Mad Men when it first came out in 2007.  I thought it was too Americana for my taste. I wasn't too familiar with the advertising industry except for the sometimes annoying TV commercials they bombard  viewers with on a daily basis.  But my sister kept hankering me to watch it so I gave in to her demands.   Now we discuss every detail of this show on Skype. Though it seems we would have to wait for next year for Season 6 to find out Don's answer to "Are you alone?".

I actually have no good reason why I watch Sons of Anarchy.  A show about biker dudes in a small town who are into drugs, guns smuggling and other illegal stuff.  Last year,  I was channel surfing one night, caught an episode and thereafter tuned in every week.  Maybe it is the bad boy vibe that appeals to me.

So yes it's couch potato time!  Bring it on, I'm ready.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Try to remember the kind of September

Time goes by so fast.  

Open your eyes and it is already the 9th month of the year.

I like the month of September.

It is the first 'ber' month.

In these parts of the globe, it means longer nights.

And cooler climates.

It also marks the month we came home for good.

This year, we have been here for 11 years.

But who's counting, let's just move onwards.

Towards the end of this month,  my beloved hubby turns a year wiser.

He calls the silver hair on his head ... highlights!

So I won't contradict it.

Besides his salt and pepper hair adds character to his features.

He is still quite young at heart.

And his sense of humor keeps *me* young (at heart) too.

I end with the words of  Tom Jones.

He wrote "Try to Remember" for the musical comedy "The Fantasticks".

My favorite version is the one sang by Perry Como.

His soothing voice does justice to this hauntingly beautiful song.

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

News junkie

I'm a big fan of news programs. I absorb news like a sponge. When I'm cooking, the TV is always tuned to either a local news channel or CNN.

But as much as I like watching the news, there are times I notice some glaring mistakes.  Misspelled names of people, places and events. Unverified reports all issued for the sake of exclusivity. Different angles of one incident reported by rival news networks, all of them dishing out different information. You cannot tell who is reporting accurately.  

But my pet peeve is when reporters themselves get the facts wrong.  For me, a good news reporter must be familiar with all the facts before s/he reports on air. You can absolutely tell if a reporter is merely speculating or reporting truthfully.  In this day and age when citizens can go online to check the authenticity of facts, it is imperative we are fed the real figures by the very agencies that are tasked with providing the news.

For instance, a radio reporter was asked if the late DILG Secretary Robredo's parents were still alive. She answered 'Yung lang po nanay niya, ang buhay pa rin".  That is not accurate as both his parents are still around albeit in frail health. 

Another thing that gets me all riled up is the manner certain persons (not just reporters) introduce the President. They refer to him as President BeNign0 S. Aquino III but the correct way is President BeNign0 C. Aquino III.    Everybody knows the middle initial is the surname of one's mother, so why would they use his 2nd name, Simeon as his middle initial??? 

It isn't just the local news networks that make mistakes, this also goes for the international news agencies.  But in fairness to them, they immediately issue an erratum notice to correct their errors.  But here it is seldom done. 

Lately, one of my must watch TV shows is The Newsroom on HBO.  It stars Jeff Daniels as a TV news anchor. The show presents the behind the scenes travails of a news program.  Yes, it veers towards the liberal Neorealism side of the US political spectrum and it deals with issues that are not relevant in this side of the globe.  Yet the brainstorming sessions, the gathering of facts and the appropriate resource persons, the writing of the stories to the actual TV show as it airs live - they are all  fascinating to absorb for me, the news junkie.

The Newsroom airs @  9pm every Wednesdays on HBO. 

Monday, September 03, 2012

Weekend edit

I had to wear my 'editor' cap, this weekend. 

My sister emailed some articles for me to peruse for any grammatical and syntax errors. As well as offer my opinion on the coherence of the write ups. I was also consulted by D to edit several paragraphs he wrote for a school project. 

And to think that my sister is *the* editor of a trade publication while D is a history professor.

Surely I don't mind helping them but it can be mentally taxing for my rusty brain cells.  But their heartfelt praises of gratitude is enough reward for my efforts. 

Perhaps, next time I should charge them for my services. :D


 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Good for the environment

Starting tomorrow, the 1st of September, Quezon City will be implementing a plastic free ordinance. This means groceries, supermarkets as well as restaurants will be using paper bags instead of issuing plastic bags. Now if you still want to use plastic bags, you'd have to pay 2 pesos per bag.

Sure, I'm in agreement with this ordinance. I always bring an extra tote bag with me so now it will serve its purpose. I'd probably have to bring two, one for canned good and the other for perishables.  

This brings me to our trip in Hong Kong, last year. It took me some time to get used to the fact that they don't issue plastic bags there.  I felt like a fool when I went to a pharmacy to buy contact lens solution and I was just standing there waiting for the sales staff to bag my purchase. Until I realized I could just take the item and leave.  No wonder, I'd see men walking around with a bottle of oil or a bar of soap.  Isn't it just like guys not to bring tote bags?

My only fear is that once this ordinance is in place,  there might be accusations of shoplifting. Although it is relatively safe in Hong Kong to assume that most items you carry have been properly paid for, I'm not sure it is quite the same here.  But let's just give each other the benefit of the doubt.

I believe it is time we do our fair share for the protection of the environment. Every time it rains you see tons of trash floating and clogging the drainage system. Not to mention the tons of garbage which washed ashore near the Manila Bay area.  It was really a sight for sore eyes. But then I noticed during relief operations in flooded areas, NGOs would put canned goods, instant noodles and rice in the ubiquitous plastic bag.

Now isn't that contradictory?  Tsk!